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Last week at Enterprise Connect 2022, I participated in “Meeting the new CX digital-first mandate: Are you leading or falling behind?” a panel discussion on what’s standing in the way of truly fluid and personalized experiences — and how companies can elevate their brands.
“Companies that use technology to advance and elevate the customer experience — versus just using it for efficiency and effectiveness — are the ones that will win,” said Mila D’Antonio, Principal Analyst at Omdia and panel moderator.
D’Antonio shared findings from the soon-to-be-released Omdia study, “The 2022 Digital-First Customer Experience,” a survey of more than 200 CX professionals, which highlighted three problems plaguing companies moving to a digital-first approach to customer experience (CX):
Three key stats from the research framed the discussion:
These findings relate to two distinct, yet connected, issues: personalization and consistency across channels. Companies need to bring these two imperatives together to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
In a 2021 Genesys survey of 690 CX leaders, 45% of respondents said their organizations deliver an extremely personalized experience — so, personalization is happening. But is it happening across channels? Companies need to bring the data from all their touchpoints together to personalize across them. Making this a reality is still a challenge for many organizations — and the issues D’Antonio cited get at the heart of why.
D’Antonio also emphasized the value of data access across touchpoints — noting that many of the CX professionals who participated in the Omdia survey pointed to challenges with data visibility and blind spots.
I can’t underscore enough the importance of connecting data in customer and employee experiences. When you connect the data that’s generated across channels, you begin to see the customer beyond a single interaction. Then you can minimize customer and employee efforts. Better yet, use technology that enables your frontline staff to view connected insights in real time — and they can better personalize CX and drive to meaningful outcomes.
Companies need to fix one blind spot with data — a siloed channel strategy. Is it marketing, service or both? These teams are collecting data on their specific legs of the digital journey, but companies need the tools to see across these journeys. They also need to link their channel strategy to bring the journeys and journey data together. APIs and composable CX platforms enable companies to build the infrastructure to link these journeys and scale quickly.
Conversely, companies can use data to isolate specific moments that stall journeys to uncover issues like the potential for customer churn, as well as opportunities to improve journeys by fixing any issues they’ve uncovered.
Complexity is another issue that hampers companies’ ability to create seamless interactions, noted D’Antonio. According to Omdia, 49% of respondents say their company has multiple interfaces and systems per agents.
If agents log in and out of different systems to resolve one issue, it creates inefficiencies. Companies should use technologies that gives agents better access to the information they need — and through a unified point of interaction. Additionally, organizations need to adopt artificial intelligence (AI), not only to support their agents with tools like real-time coaching and next-best-action recommendations, but also to support employees like bot authors who are integral to the self-service aspect of CX.
Nearly 60% of companies considered leaders in using AI to enhance CX are using it for digitalization, self-service and automation. And 42% use it to personalize CX.
I predict “AI everywhere” and, along with that, “Knowledge everywhere.” We can reduce the complexity in CX by helping customers self-serve. Equally important, we can reduce complexity by giving agents access to the information they need — at the moment they need it — to improve the efficiency and personalization of customer interactions.
Providing frontline staff and customers with this AI-led access to data is crucial to improving CX. One large financial service firm is proof of this: Since the launch of its AI-based search tool, the platform has received more than 1.5 million queries, with over 90% of questions handled through self-service. Its staff had the information needed to create a robust self-service experience. And that experience provides enough information to customers for self-service without having to escalate to a live agent. Results like this improve customer and employee experiences, as well as the bottom line.
A theme in the panel discussion was the extent to which customer expectations have surpassed companies’ readiness levels to deliver high-quality digital experiences. Omdia research found that:
Two areas to consider here are the current fight for talent and the need to rethink employee engagement and retention. One way to address both is to ensure employees have the same experiences with technology at work as they have on their own devices.
In an environment where 70% of consumers say a company is only as good as its service, it’s time for business to organize around the customer, engage employees and provide both with the contextually relevant information they need in real time. This will only happen when a company grounds its culture in empathy toward customers and employees.
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